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  • Composed by Nuno Malo
  • Lakeshore Records / 2015 / 49m

Sheldon Candis’s 2012 crime drama LUV stars rapper Common as… well, the Wikipedia plot synopsis is so good I need to share it verbatim.  “Uncle Vincent (Common) has recently returned home after eight years in prison determined to straighten out his life by opening a high-end crab shack.”  That’s one way of doing it, I guess.  Given the film is three years old and barely anyone saw it, it’s a bit of a surprise to see the score getting a release, but it’s a good job it has because it’s a bit of a gem.  Nuno Malo has been consistently impressive with everything I’ve heard from him; LUV is a long way away from the orchestral elegance I would associate with the composer but it’s no less impressive than the rest of his work.  It’s largely an ambient work, edgy and gritty yet undoubtedly very beautiful, perhaps a bit of a long lost cousin of Mark Isham’s great Crash with a bit of Thomas Newman’s DNA thrown in there somewhere.

The opening cue, “Woody’s Coming of Age”, sums thing up nicely.  Guitar licks, synths and strings come together in a series of slow chords, unconventionally emotional.  The score is built around these little pads of sound, which are stacked on top of each other and sometimes blended together, mood carefully cultivated and absolutely captivating.  The pace is generally very relaxed as the music washes around the listener (though there are some moments of greater urgency).  As the score progresses it becomes ever more poignant: “Never Show Weakness” is a wonderful piece of music, the electronic textures produced with such precision to convey absolute sadness; “The Death of Vincent” a stunning elegy.  But really, LUV is one of those albums where picking out individual cues is a thankless task, it is so consistent in sound and quality.  It won’t be for everyone – it takes its time, it eschews fireworks – but anyone who likes this kind of textural music will find one of the best examples of it of the last decade or so.  A wonderful surprise.

Rating: **** | |

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  1. ANDRÉ -- Cape Town. (Reply) on Sunday 21 June, 2015 at 20:32

    Thanks for alerting us to this score James. I read the synopsis – sounds terribly sordid and sad…drugs – a sensitive youth having to morph into a macho man – a former convict never getting breaks in a callous world. Another MALO score for a 2010 movie, ‘Backlight’, is now available. This award-winning Portuguese movie focuses on strangers, whose lives intertwine as they try and cope with the stresses of living in the 21st Century. MALO has fashioned a symphonic/electronic/choral score with the composer, himself providing the vocalise accompaniment. He has structured an emotive, thematic underscore to explore the loneliness, isolation, compassion and, eventually, companionship experienced by the characters. The Madeiran born MALO moved to L.A. in 2003, and since 2008 his career has started to peak…and, thankfully, impressive scores are now being added to our collections.